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Postgame: LSU 10, Ole Miss 7

LSU TE Logan Stokes make his touchdown grab.

LSU TE Logan Stokes make his touchdown grab. (Angel Major)

The Game Story

The voice of public-address announcer Dan Borne boomed over Tiger Stadium’s speakers: “Please stay off of the field!”

Good luck, Dan.

No. 24 LSU beat No. 3 Ole Miss 10-7 on Saturday night in a heart-pounding, wild classic that returned this heated rivalry back to its golden years of the 1950s and ’60s.

How good was it?

LSU fans stormed the field for the first time in more than a decade. An estimated 15,000 — most from the student section — rushed onto the playing surface after a mad fourth-quarter comeback.

Read the rest here.

The Turning Point

LSU stopped Ole Miss on fourth-and-2 from the LSU 47-yard line. Bo Wallace’s quick sneak attempt failed as linebacker Kendell Beckwith, defensive end Danielle Hunter and safety Jamal Adams made the stop with 1:44 left in the game.

The Stars

  • LB Kendell Beckwith: Beckwith had a second straight game with at least 10 tackles. He made some solid plays, including that fourth-down stop. Beckwith usurped D.J. Welter as the Tigers’ starter a few weeks ago. Welter, at least from our observations, didn’t play at middle linebacker Saturday.
  • LSU’s offensive line: Maligned for not living up to expectations earlier this season, the Tigers’ front five moved around an Ole Miss front that’s talented but on the small size. The holes, at times, where massive.

    La'el Collins and Vadal Alexander celebrate with field-storming fans. (Travis Spradling)

    La’el Collins and Vadal Alexander celebrate with field-storming fans. (Travis Spradling)

  • RB Leonard Fournette: The former No. 1 recruit in the nation rolled up 113 yards, a 5-yard average. LSU rode him throughout the game, before he gave way late to a fresh Kenny Hilliard. Fournette has now run for more than 100 yards three times this season.

The Numbers

  • 762: Combined rushing yards for LSU over last three games.
  • 25: Anthony Jennings’ pass completions in the last three games.
  • 42: Bo Wallace’s completion percentage.

The Quote

“Miss you, mom.” – LSU coach Les Miles after the game. His mother passed away Friday night.

Game Day: LSU vs. Ole Miss

This blog will updated with pregame notes and news starting at about three hours before kickoff.

UPDATES

  • 5:45: Former LSU players Reuben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr. are at Saturday’s game. They were shown on the jumbotron about an hour before kickoff to a rousing roar from Tiger Stadium.
  • 5:15: LSU quarterbacks Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris are not listed as co-starters on the depth chart. There is no “OR” between their names. That’s the first time the two have no been listed as co-starters this season on any LSU depth chart. Jennings is, of course, listed as the starter with Harris in the No. 2 spot.
  • 5:00: Miles and Freeze were seen talking with Duck Dynasty’s Jace Robertson, one of the two guest pickers on ESPN GameDay:

  • 4:40: LSU coach Les Miles spent time chatting with Hugh Freeze and his three daughters at midfield about two hours before kickoff. One of the daughters, Ragan, ranks Miles as her No. 1 coach, Freeze said at SEC media days this past summer.
  • 4:30: Les Miles arrived at Tiger Stadium for his pregame interviews with ESPN and LSU’s radio crew.

The Info

  • Match: No. 24 LSU (6-2, 2-2) vs. No. 3 Ole Miss (7-0, 4-0)
  • TDP: 6:21 p.m., Saturday, Tiger Stadium
  • TV: ESPN (Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Heather Cox)
  • Series Record: LSU leads 58-40-4

Players To Watch (LSU)

  • C Elliott Porter: Porter has struggled more than any offensive lineman for LSU, and he may face his biggest test of the season so far, blocking Robert Nkemdiche, the former No. 1 recruit in the nation. LSU must run the football successfully to win, and that includes clearing the middle with Porter.
  • DE Danielle Hunter: LSU must pressure Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace. Hunter said earlier this week that the scouting report on the Rebels was that they’d pass 70 percent. That’s plenty of chances for Hunter and the entire D-line to force turnovers out of a guy who’s, in the past, been erratic with the ball.

    Anthony Jennings has thrown just three interceptions all season. (Travis Spradling)

    Anthony Jennings has thrown just three interceptions all season. (Travis Spradling)

  • Anthony Jennings: LSU won’t rely on Jennings to win this game, but it will need him to avoid turning the ball over and to make big, crucial plays when needed. Maybe that’s a 40-yard strike to Dural or a 20-yard scramble. He must make a handful of big plays in this game for the Tigers to win. They can’t only rely on the run.
Robert Nkemdiche is a force up front for Ole Miss. (AP)

Robert Nkemdiche is a force up front for Ole Miss. (AP)

Players To Watch (Ole Miss)

  • DT Robert Nkemdiche: As previously mentioned, Nkemiche is the former No. 1 recruit in the nation who has a pension of manhandling offensive linemen. Nkemdiche’s backfield pressure is key in this game – not only on Jennings’ 20ish drops a game, but on LSU’s run game.
  • QB Bo Wallace: Again, mentioned above, but Wallace has thrown 33 interceptions in his 33 starts at Ole Miss, a run spanning two and a half seasons. He doesn’t have to do too much in this game (LSU’s offense likely isn’t gonna score in gobs), but he can’t make the big turnovers.
  • Laquon Treadwell: The Rebels aren’t the power running team of Mississippi State and Auburn. In fact, Ole Miss’ run-pass split is 55-45 so they like to pass and they like to do it with Treadwell, who has 34 catches, 458 yards and four scores.

Key Matchup

  • LSU’s D-line vs. Ole Miss’ O-line: David Pollack, the former Georgia star who’s on ESPN GameDay, also mentioned this as the key matchup in the game. He called it “weakness vs. weakness,” a nod to these two teams’ weak points. For LSU, that’s a defensive line that’s been somewhat disappointing. For Ole Miss, that’s an offensive line that’s allowed 18 sacks in seven games.

The Opponent

  • Sagarin rating: No. 1
  • Best win: 23-17 No. 2 Alabama
  • Worst loss: None
  • Sagarin strength of schedule: No. 13
  • Record vs. Sagarin Top 30: 3-0

The Series

Last 10

  • 2013: Ole Miss 27-24 in Oxford
  • 2012: LSU 41-35 in Baton Rouge
  • 2011: LSU 52-3 in Oxford
  • 2010: LSU 43-36 in Baton Rouge
  • 2009: Ole Miss 25-23 in Oxford
  • 2008: Ole Miss 31-13 in Baton Rouge
  • 2007: LSU 41-24 in Oxford
  • 2006: LSU 23-20 (OT) in Baton Rouge
  • 2005: LSU 40-7 in Oxford
  • 2004: LSU 27-24 in Baton Rouge

Biggest series wins

  • LSU: 52-3 (49 points) 2011
  • Ole Miss: 32-0 (32) 1992

The Spread

Ole Miss -3.5

Live chat during the game between No. 3 Ole Miss and No. 24 LSU in Tiger Stadium

Live Blog Live chat during the game between No. 3 Ole Miss and No. 24 LSU in Tiger Stadium

ESPN GameDay picker: Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson

Willie Robertson was on the field for LSU's win over Florida last season. (AP)

Willie Robertson was on the field for LSU’s win over Florida last season. (AP)

Willie Robertson, the bandanna-wearing, beard-sporting Duck Dynasty personality, will serve as the guest picker on ESPN’s College GameDay, according to a source at the network.

Robertson had been rumored to be the guy for the last couple of days. LSU and ESPN attempted secure commitments for the guest picker role from at least three other celebrities: former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, singer Britney Spears and actor John Goodman.

ESPN is not revealing its guest picker until Saturday morning, producer Lee Fitting said Friday.

The three- hour college football pregame show broadcasts from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.  The guest picker is revealed, normally, toward the end of the show. The picker walks out of the GameDay truck to the set to pick the best games in college football that Saturday.

Fitting, who spoke to the media on Friday afternoon, called choosing a guest picker each week “grinding.” He would not reveal the guest picker, but said one is locked in.

Robertson is not an alumnus of LSU, something that doesn’t matter to GameDay.

“That’s another thing people get wound up over – has to have LSU ties,” Fitting said. “I missed the handbook on that one that that’s a rule. Our goal with the guest picker is to find a somewhat high-profile celebrity or someone we think can be entertaining. If it has a tie to the host school, that’s great. If not, who cares.

Katy Perry didn’t have a tie to Ole Miss. She was great. Most weeks it’s grinding to try to find someone who can do it. Sometimes we don’t know until Thursday or Friday.”

Read more from the GameDay crew here.

GameDay crew talks Katy Perry, corn dogs and Les Miles-to-Michigan

Chris Fowler was confused when Katy Perry brought out that plate of corn dogs a few weeks ago, Desmond Howard side-stepped questions about Les Miles-to-Michigan and David Pollack called Tiger Stadium the best atmosphere in college football.

These are some of the nuggets during an hour-long interview session with a few members of ESPN’s College GameDay crew. GameDay will shoot live Saturday morning from LSU’s Parade Grounds.

Here are other nuggets from our chat with the GameDay crew:

Former Georgia linebacker David Pollack recalled Georgia’s 2003 IMG_2084game at Tiger Stadium, a wild and rowdy clash between two top-15 teams that resulted in a 17-10 LSU win.

Stupid environment. Unbelievable. I remember the fans. Remember driving in on the buses and getting flipped off by people. I remember coming into the stadium or locker room and the tiger being right outside and scaring the bejesus out of you. I remember the student section being packed when you get out there and they chant really nice things to you and I remember losing, which is the worst part of it.

I’ve said it, not just because I’m here, I think it’s the best atmosphere in college football. I think it’s the toughest. The fans are the rowdiest. It’s freaking awesome.”

And, now, to corn dogs. Katy Perry’s corn dog stunt a few weeks ago hqdefaultriled up LSU’s fan base. The GameDay crew didn’t understand the reference to the corn dogs. Fowler said he was “confused” and that Perry asked for several props the night before – one being a plate of corn dogs.

I had never heard of the corn dog thing. No one on our set had ever heard of the corn dog thing. Somebody coached her up. Her manager is an Ole Miss fan, had given her a plate of corn dogs. She asked for a large list of props on Friday and one of them was a plate of corn dog. We had no idea why. She showed us why.

I don’t get it. Never smells like corn dogs to me when I come around here. Smells like good food … and Bourbon.

Fowler was a young sideline reporter at LSU’s game against Auburn in 1988 - the Earthquake Game. 

They had been held scoreless the entire game and finally were able to wear out Auburn’s defense, get that touchdown. The bottles came flying out of the stands and the earth shook. That was a fun game to be a sideline reporter. It was unforgettable. Every time I walk back into Tiger Stadium, I have memories like that.

Michigan is heading toward a third straight mediocre season under fourth-year coach Brady Hoke. Les Miles, a former Michigan player and coach has been a candidate for the Wolverines job in the past. Could he be again?dt.common.streams.StreamServer

Desmond Howard, a former Heisman-winning receiver at Michigan, was asked that question: “I don’t know,” he said. Later, he was asked how Michigan could be fixed.

Fix the offensive line. That’s where you start. You got to win in the trenches in the Big Ten. Big Ten I would consider a physical conference. Some of the best coaches in your conference, in the SEC, are Big Ten coaches or former Big Ten coaches and they’ve brought Big Ten style of football to the SEC. Alabama, Nick Saban, big, nasty offensive linemen. Nice, heavy 225-pound running back. Same thing with LSU.

At their heart is being a physical team up front, winning the battle in the trenches and control the ball with the running game. That’s the first thing I’d try to fix. To me, that’s the type of style they play in that conference.

Fowler said GameDay plans on Saturday plays to feature more of LSU’s tailgating scene than the show has done in the past.

We’re going to focus on the preparations, the food, more tomorrow than we ever have. We’ve never really done it right, focusing on the tailgate delicacies. We’ve got a few things planned. We’ve got a great chef there right by the set.

This is the third time in four weeks that GameDay has originated IMG_2081from an SEC West schools. Is the show biased to the SEC West? Nah, just to good football, Fowler said.

We get accused by non-SEC fans of  being biased of this conference. We’re biased for good football and we’re biased for highly ranked teams. We find ourselves in the SEC West a lot to the dismay of people elsewhere. This is the logical game to be at this week. If Ole Miss wins this game, the logical place to be next week would be Auburn at Ole Miss unless Auburn stumbles.

Pollack gave a breakdown of the Ole Miss-LSU game, citing weaknesses for both and strengths.

The weakness for LSU is their defensive front seven is not as talented as it used to be. Well, Ole Miss’ front is not the greatest either. Their offensive line, I think, is their weakness on weakness and strength on strength. Their wide receiving corps is really good with Laquon Treadwell, but LSU still has got some DBs. Don’t get twisted. They can still cover. I think that’s the matchup on defense.

When LSU has the ball, I vividly remember the last drive watching Bama versus Ole Miss. They ran the ball almost every single play, ran it left almost every single play, drive down, score a touchdown. And I think LSU’s offensive line is better than Bama’s. Can they make holes?

Ole Miss is a little small on the defensive line but they’re hyper-active as can be. They’re tough. They fly around and play pretty hard. The passing game… can you get anything from LSU? Some kind of balance, big plays.

As a former Georgia great, Pollack takes the most flack from the Bulldogs’ fan base during his GameDay picks and comments. He’s OK with that, though.

I’m a traitor. I’m a turncoat. I get it worse from them than any fan base. It’s funny, because when I pick Georgia I’m a homer and when I pick against them I’m a traitor. My philosophy, I want to be right.

I get blasted back home, but, again, it’s fun.

 

Jalen Rose would like to see Les Miles back at Michigan

Former Michigan basketball star and current ESPN NBA analyst Jalen Rose was the subject of a lengthy Q and A on SI.com this week. While most of the questions centered on basketball, SI.com writer Richard Dietsch asked Rose about the embattled athletic director (Dave Brandon) and football coach (Brady Hoke) at alma mater. Rose brought up the name of another prominent Michigan alum, LSU coach Les Miles:

You follow the Michigan athletic program closely. Where do you stand on Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon?

First, I love Dave Brandon and I don’t think there will be any change at his position. I think the one thing that happened with Dave is when you come into a scenario like he did, and you are really successful at business and you have shown you can be a terrific leader, sometimes there is the little guy who feels like he has been pushed over and in Ann Arbor, those are the students. They are upset about their seats being moved. Protesting in front of the President’s house is never good. I think he deserves the opportunity to keep his job and I hope he continues to have his job, but things [mistakes] have to be acknowledged. For Brady Hoke, I can’t remember in my lifetime where the fans of the University of Michigan’s football team have been so down on the product they are seeing every Saturday. Because of that, I don’t see how he can be able to keep his job after this year. If there is a change — and I never root for any person to get fired — Les Miles. While the people in Baton Rouge appreciate everything he has done, they don’t seem like they have that new car smell with him anymore. 

“They don’t seem like they have that new car smell with him anymore.” Rose may have done a better job than anyone ever has of defining the LSU fan base’s prevailing feelings about Miles.

 

Five memorable games: LSU vs. Ole Miss

There probably isn’t another LSU rivalry that contains more memorable games that the Tigers’ series against Ole Miss. In fact, five isn’t the problem. The problem is keeping the list to just five:

Oct. 31, 1959 – LSU 7, Ole Miss 3: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 3 Ole Miss was the game of the 20th century for the Tigers and Rebels. Billy Cannon’s 89-yard punt return is the most legendary single moment in LSU football history, but it would have been a mere footnote if Cannon and Warren Rabb hadn’t stopped Doug Elmore on a quarterback sneak in the closing seconds.

Nov. 1, 1969 – Ole Miss 26, LSU 23: Archie Manning passed and scrambled the Rebels to a second-straight three-point win over the Tigers, costing LSU a perfect season. The 9-1 Tigers eventually chose to stay home after the Cotton Bowl picked Notre Dame to face No. 1 Texas.

Dec. 5, 1970 – LSU 61, Ole Miss 17: As oranges rained down, the Tigers clinched their only SEC title under coach Charlie McClendon. Tommy Casanova returned two punts for scores, Craig Burns another, as the Tigers clinched an Orange Bowl bid. This was the last LSU-Ole Miss battle of ranked teams in Tiger Stadium before Saturday’s game.

Nov. 4, 1972 – LSU 17, Ole Miss 16: “Entering Louisiana,” read a sign put up on the Louisiana-Mississippi state line after this game. “Set your watch back four seconds.” Bert Jones some how got off two passes in the final four seconds, the second to Brad Davis for a 10-yard TD as time expired. Rusty Jackson’s PAT left the Rebels singing the “One Second Blues.”

Nov. 22, 2003 – LSU 17, Ole Miss 14: In a game in which the SEC West and the Tigers’ national title hopes were at stake, Matt Mauck threw a pick six on LSU’s first offensive play, before the Tigers rallied for a three-point lead. With 1:50 left, Ole Miss faced fourth-and-10 at its 42 when defensive tackle Chad Lavalais shoved left guard Doug Buckles backward, tripping up quarterback Eli Manning to end the Rebels’ last threat.

 

Pick 6: Q and A with an opposing beat reporter

We used to call Hugh Kellenberger a co-worker. Now, he’s THE ENEMY.

No, not really. Hugh covers Ole Miss for The Clarion-Ledger, and he’s been nice enough to join his old co-worker for our Pick 6 on the surging Rebels.

Ole Miss upset Alabama earlier this season and then proceeded to attack its goal posts. (Clarion-Ledger)

Ole Miss upset Alabama earlier this season and then proceeded to attack its goal posts. (Clarion-Ledger)

You can follow Hugh on Twitter at @HKellenbergerCL and read his work here.

1. Ole Miss enters this game 7-0 for the first time since 1962 and No. 3 nationally. What’s the feeling/environment like in Oxford these days?

It’s a tad difficult to explain, but I’ll give it my best shot.

People aren’t running through the streets with goal posts the way they were after Alabama, if that’s what you’re asking. That was three weeks ago, and time goes on and people settle back into their routine. But people are talking about Ole Miss more, it seems, and doing so in this very proud way.

Mississippians get used to being told how we’re last in everything good (like education) and first in everything bad (like obesity). And then you have something come along like this, which was very much unexpected (the team was supposed to be this good, but few thought THIS good), and I think people who would not know Bo Wallace from Bo Derek normally can take a measure of pride in something happening that reflects well on this state and its people.

2. What does LSU need to do to turn Good Bo (Wallace) into Bad Bo?

Score. Score early. Ole Miss has settled into a nice routine over the last month or so: let the offense find its way into the game while the defense keeps the thing close by being its usual dominating self.

The A&M game was a bit different because Ole Miss got up 21-0 in the first quarter and then settled in to a conservative gameplan. Bo Wallace has said a couple of times that his mindset has changed: he doesn’t have to be the playmaker, because the defense is.

Can LSU force Bad Bo to emerge? (Clarion-Ledger)

Can LSU force Bad Bo to emerge? (Clarion-Ledger)

Getting up on Ole Miss in a significant way maybe forces Wallace to take some chances, and that’s when interceptions comes.

3. What’s the weak point – if there is one – in this Ole Miss defense?

For a while everyone considered it to be the run defense: Vanderbilt ran the ball a little bit on the Rebels, and ULL had nearly 200 yards rushing against Ole Miss. But short of one series against Alabama (which was entirely behind its left tackle, and in a hurry-up that did not allow for Ole Miss to change the way it was defending the run mid-series) the run defense has really stiffened up.

Tennessee had zero rushing yards last Saturday, and Texas A&M’s running game averaged less than two yards a carry. I would still say the weakness, if there is one, is downhill running. I’m just not as convinced of that as I was a month ago.

4. What’s the latest on former LSU QB signee Jeremy Liggins? What’s his role on the team and can we be expected to see him Saturday?

He’s doing a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Ole Miss created a heavy formation package for Liggins, which is really something: it’s six offensive linemen, a former defensive tackle playing tight end, a regular tight end, the heaviest running back and Liggins. I counted it up once and it was 3,100 pounds on the field.

Jeremy Liggins once committed to LSU from the Oxford Square. He never enrolled at LSU. (Clarion-Ledger)

Jeremy Liggins once committed to LSU from the Oxford Square. He never enrolled at LSU. (Clarion-Ledger)

Ole Miss has usually just run a QB power play out of it on third-and-short, but when it stopped working (teams loaded up against it) Ole Miss ran a sweep out of it to the back and got some yards.

The rest of the time Liggins is lining up as a tight end, where he hasn’t caught a pass yet but has stood out as the team’s best blocker. They’ll pull him through the gaps and the way he attacks guys you’d never think he was a high school quarterback.

5. Much is being made about the Ole Miss secondary. Why are they so good?

About half of it is talent: Tony Conner was the best player in the state of Mississippi in 2013 (and maybe one of the best ever to play in the Magnolia State), Cody Prewitt is an All-American and Trae Elston and Senquez Golson were both prep All-Americans.

The other half of it is just those guys really wanting it, and having strong football IQs. I didn’t mention Mike Hilton above, and that’s because he was a 5-foot-8 fringe prospect that Hugh Freeze held onto in his first recruiting class and has become defensive coordinator Dave Wommack’s favorite player.

He’s played four different positions in his career, and is starting at corner right now. Prewitt wasn’t that highly-thought of, but again it’s about football IQ and he’ll hit anything that moves.

Conner can play a lot of different roles against the run and pass during the course of a game, and Elston and Golson are both playing the best football of their careers. Going to a more attacking press man coverage has helped, but Ole Miss has not exclusively played that scheme. There’s no magic beans: just good football players who want to be great.

6. What’s the one thing Ole Miss must do well in this game to win?

They need to force this game into Anthony Jennings’ hands. I think if you’re Ole Miss you figure you’re going to score enough points, because you have all season. The special teams, especially punting, have been good, so you probably think you’re fine there.

You want to load up against the run and get into third-and-long situations where you can rush four, drop seven and make Jennings beat you. That happens and Ole Miss would like its chances, I’d bet.

LSU-Ole Miss times of interest

Billy Cannon will be one of the guest pickers before LSU kicks off against Ole Miss. (Richard Alan Hannon)

Billy Cannon will be one of the guest pickers before LSU kicks off against Ole Miss. (Richard Alan Hannon)

Thursday
7 p.m.                                    Homecoming Pep Rally (Parade Ground)
 
Friday
8 p.m.                                    Homecoming Concert (Parade Ground)
 
Saturday
8 a.m.                                    ESPN’s College GameDay (Parade Ground)
8:30 a.m.                               Coach Miles on ESPN College GameDay set 
8:30 a.m.                               LSU SportShop opens
11 a.m.                                  LSU Homecoming Parade (through campus)
Noon                                     Ticket office opens
3 p.m.                                    Club level and Suites open at Tiger Stadium
3:15 p.m.                              LSU Student gates open at Tiger Stadium
3:30 p.m.                              All remaining gates open at Tiger Stadium
4:10 p.m.                              LSU walks down “Victory Hill”
4:20 p.m.                              Mike VI comes down Victory Hill
4:25 p.m.                              Band comes down Victory Hill
5:46 p.m.                              Mike the Tiger and LSU Cheerleaders field parade
6:04:30 p.m.                         Golden Band from Tigerland takes the field for pregame
6:09 p.m.                              Alma Mater and National Anthem
6:15:30 p.m.                         LSU intro video
6:17 p.m.                              LSU takes the field
6:18 p.m.                              Ole Miss takes the field
6:18 p.m.                              Coin toss at midfield
6:21 p.m.                              Kickoff: LSU vs. Ole Miss on ESPN